Like the nerd I am, I have been making my way through Stargate SG-1 lately. Sometimes it’s more interesting than others, but this most recent episode, “Revisions” in Season 7, portrays the potential perils and pitfalls of technological advancement.
Synopsis: **SPOILER ALERT**
In this stand-alone episode, SG-1 explores an apparently uninhabitable planet. When they send the rover through the gate, it finds an idyllic sanctuary inside a strange dome, protected from the toxic atmosphere just beyond the Stargate. Within the dome, they meet the inhabitants, each one of whom is hooked into “the Link” through an almond cookie-shaped device placed on the temple. Evidently, everyone in the town is hooked up to this miraculous network that has the power to directly connect the human brain and a computer that holds all the records, history, and data for the settlement.
The catch is, the people begin acting more and more strangely as time goes on, and the “updates” from the computer to the inhabitants through the Link become more and more troublesome.
This is where I spoil the plot for you. It turns out that the computer has been programmed to protect the dome and the settlement, but no longer has the power to do so. Over the past few centuries, as the dome has begun to shrink, the Link has been sending individuals outside, to their deaths, in order to maintain equilibrium/harmony/livable conditions within the dome. And then erasing everyone else’s memories of the “lost” people. SG-1, being the do-gooders they are, manage to disconnect an engineer from the Link and obtain his help in re-programming the computer to not only save Jack O’Neill and Teal’C from a computer-driven mob, but to save everyone by relocating them … somewhere else.
Christopher Heyerdahl’s role (he’s the aforementioned engineer) has the closest connection to the community’s technological developments. His scenes cover many of the most intriguing plot developments, particularly dealing with technology, the Link, and re-programming the computer.
What fascinates me about this episode is its presentation of the idea that the brain (and neuroscience) may be the future of information. There are some pretty amazing technological developments on the horizon, and from all appearances, the information profession is going to remain dynamic.
The similarities between this world and our own are also striking. In the episode, paper records have become obsolete on this world, yet end up being the key to saving the settlement. At one point, a secondary character shows Daniel to the “archives” – a poorly maintained, abandoned-looking room with dusty books piled haphazardly on available surfaces, and says “We don’t have much need for books anymore.” Our own society is apparently approaching that point, or one like it.
Finally, this episode advocates for preservation of information outside a “link,” or a network, or the “cloud,” and also argues that paper records may still have a place in the future of information.
And this is one example of the reasons I love science fiction.